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Can the Center Hold?

Understanding Israel’s Pragmatic Majority

Courtesy Reuters

A majority of Israelis -- around 70 percent, according to a recent poll by the Truman Institute for the Advancement of Peace, in Jerusalem -- support a two-state solution. Yet that same majority is deeply skeptical of Palestinian intentions. To understand this seeming contradiction and the psyche of the Israeli mainstream, one should read the two articles that recently appeared in these pages on the Palestinian question -- "The Problem Is Palestinian Rejectionism," by Yosef Kuperwasser and Shalom Lipner, and "Israel's Bunker Mentality," by Ronald Krebs (November/December 2011) -- not as a debate but as complementary arguments. Centrist Israelis endorse Krebs' argument that the occupation is an existential threat to the Jewish state. They understand that ending it would ease the demographic challenge to Israel's Jewish majority and allow Israel to retain both its Jewish and its democratic identities. A two-state solution would also deflate the growing international movement to delegitimize

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